I feel like ever since I was young the mantra, “live like today is your last” or “live like you’re dying” has always been used to motivate people to live big and make bold choices. For a majority of my life, this has been a great motivator. I haven’t ever been one to shy away from risks, really. I always figured that we get one chance and once we’re gone, we’re gone, so why not live big, right? *
However, now at 28, I call bullshit on this mantra.
My mother left my life when I was far too young, although I am extremely grateful I had her as long as I did. My grandparents died just a couple of years before my mother, and my father just a couple of years after. I wasn’t extremely close with any of these family members, with the exception of my mom, and for a long time their deaths didn’t really affect me all that much. I went on living big because my mom taught to run after things that I want and to stomp through streams whenever given the opportunity.
This worked well for me for quite a while. I moved across the country after college, I traversed through Uganda with a handful of strangers I met in an airport, I opened a business. All of these things were possible in large part because I thought, “what the hell, I might as well do something while I’m here.” I’m so thankful for all of these experiences and I wouldn’t change them for the world.
But now I don’t know what to do.
I have crossed so many grand adventures off of my to-do list. I have lived in places that make my heart soar. I have lived in places I felt extremely trapped and suffocated. I have dated around and kissed all the boys. I have married my best friend and partner in crime. So what’s next? So many decisions I have made revolved around this, “why not?” question that now I find myself with answers to that question and I don’t know what to do.
It is here my problem lies. I no longer need to rush myself through this life because I could die tomorrow. I have everything I need right now. I don’t have to move somewhere new because life is too short to live in Texas. (I say this a lot. I’m not a Texas-sized fan of Texas.) I need to stay here because life is here, now. I don’t need to have twelve projects going on because my heart is in one, and that is enough.
For the first time in my life I am beginning to accept that I might live to be 85. This idea has genuinely never seemed like a real possibility. It is possible that all those cigarettes I didn’t smoke and all those vegetables I did eat will pay off in the end. Perhaps, maybe, chaos will not strike my middle aged years simply because it did to my mother. Maybe I will get to retire in a mountain cabin with my husband and take up jamming (canning?) or knitting or oil painting. Maybe I won’t. Regardless, I’m here now and that is enough.
So I’m finished living like today could be my last. For me, now, I’m living like I’m living.
*denotes questionable comma use